Duncan J. Irschick


Photograph of First Last
205C Morrill III South

B.S., University of California, Davis, 1991

Ph.D., Washington University, St. Louis, 1996


2000-2001 Postdoctoral Researcher, University of California at Berkeley

1997 ñ 2000 Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Cincinnati

Research Interests: 

Functional Morphology, Evolution, and Behavioral Ecology

Duncan J. Irschick is an integrative biologist and innovator interested in the evolution and ecology of animal athletics, and how biological form informs synthetic design. Some of his research interests include gecko adhesion, 3D-imaging, animal movement, and bioinspiration. He is a co-inventor of two technologies – GeckskinTM, a bioinspired superadhesive, and BeastcamTM, a portable multi-camera technology that can create high-resolution 3D models of living creatures. He is also the co-founder and director of Digital Life (www.digitallife3d.com), a non-profit imitative to create and distribute high-resolution 3D models of life on earth, and the Center for Evolutionary Materials at UMASS Amherst.

Duncan has published 137 papers on animal function and evolution, and has been a co-inventor on several patents. He has received funding from NIH, NSF, and private foundations, and media attention from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNET.org, and CNN.

Irschick has been invited to 76 talks for Universities and organizations all over the world. He has been a Keynote and plenary speaker for many different organizations and Universities. In 2014 and 2016, he was honored with the Outstanding Research Award, the Chancellors Medal, and the Distinguished Faculty Lecture Award from the University of Massachusetts. To see his publications, go to https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=AIINUSQAAAAJ&hl=en

Representative Publications: 

Irschick, D.J., Vitt, L.J., Zani, P., Losos, J.B. 1997. A comparison of evolutionary radiations in Mainland and West Indian Anolis lizards. Ecology, 78: 2191-2203.

Irschick, D.J., Jayne, B.C. 1999. Comparative three-dimensional kinematics of the hindlimb for high-speed bipedal and quadrupedal locomotion of lizards. Journal of Experimental Biology, 202: 1047-1065.

Irschick, D.J., Losos, J.B. 1999. Do lizards avoid habitats in which their performance is submaximal? The relationship between sprinting capabilities and structural habitat use in Caribbean anoles. The American Naturalist, 154: 293-305.


Irschick, D.J., Garland, T. Jr. 2001. Integrating function and ecology in studies of adaptation: Investigations of locomotor capacity as a model system. Annual Reviews of Ecology and Systematics, 32: 367-396.

Irschick, D.J., VanHooydonck, B., Herrel, A., Androsceu, A. 2003. Effects of loading and size on maximum power output and kinematics in geckos. Journal of Experimental Biology, 206: 3923-3934.

Ramos, M., Irschick, D.J.., Christenson, T. 2004. Overcoming an evolutionary conflict: Removal of a reproductive organ greatly enhances locomotor performance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101: 4883-4887. (Featured in the book “Moths that drink elephant tears” by Matt Walker, NPR, Science News, the BBC, and many other media outlets).

Lailvaux, S., Herrel, A., VanHooydonck, B., Meyers, J., Irschick, D.J. 2004. Performance capacity, fighting tactics, and the evolution of life-stage male morphs in the green anole Lizard (Anolis carolinensis). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B., 271: 2501-2508.

Gillis, G. B, Bonvini, L, Irschick, D. J. 2009. Losing stability: tail loss and jumping in the arboreal lizard Anolis carolinensis. Journal of Experimental Biology, 212: 604-609. (Featured on The Daily Planet” by the Discovery Channel, Science Daily, The Toronto Star, Wired magazine.com, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation [“Quirks and Quarks” show] and many other media outlets).

Herrel, A, Huyghe, K., Vanhooydonck, B., Backeljau T, Breugelmans, K., Grbac, I., Van Damme, R., Irschick, D. J. 2008. Rapid large scale evolutionary divergence in morphology and performance associated with the exploitation of a novel dietary resource in the lizard Podarcis sicula. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105: 4792-4795. (Featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (“As It Happens”), National Geographic News, ScienceDaily, and many other media outlets, Faculty of 1000 selection; Featured on the Research Channel on “To What Degree? What Science is Telling us about Climate Change”; Featured in “The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution” by Carl Zimmer).

Bartlett, M., Croll, A. B., King, D. R., Irschick, D. J*, Crosby AJ. 2012. Looking Beyond Fibrillar Features to Scale Gecko-Like Adhesion. Advanced Materials (IF=13.9, Cover), 24: 1078-1083. (*Irschick co-corresponding author) (Featured in The Daily Mail, Wired Magazine, SmartPlanet.com, The New Zealand Herald, New Scientist.com, NPR, Yahoo!, Voice of America, The Daily Planet, CNET.com, WTOP Radio, Daily KOS, Campbell Biology textbook, 10th Edition, and many other outlets).